Physical stress and changes in mood states: disentangling physical and psychological mood factors

Por: Brian Stephens, Daniel Birrer, David Martin, Mark Andersen e Tammie Ebert.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Disturbed mood states are consistently described as sensitive and early markers of overtraining or underrecovery. However, sport scientists were never able to clearly establish the usefulness of psychometric tools for identifying early stages of overtraining on a single case basis [1]. Most of the studies were using a global mood score with a group study design. However, the various mood factors are very different in their function and in their reactivity to training load. The use of a global mood score clouds these differences. Furthermore, since it is the aim to make prognosis on a single case basis a group study design is inappropriate. The present study aimed to explore the relationship between training load and different mood factors on a single case basis.


Eight elite male road cyclists were monitored daily prior to (13 days) and during a 6-day stage race using the Circumplex Mood Scales (CMS) [2], bicycle power cranks (SRM powermeters) and a modified Total Quality Recovery Scale (TQR) [3]. The CMS and the TQR were administered at breakfast. Data were analysed on a single case basis using the cross-correlation function and the visual inspection of the different profiles representing all 19 days.


Results of the cross-correlation analysis are presented in Table 1. All cross-correlations between the more physically coloured mood scales fatigue/positive activation and the training load are significant at a lag of 1. We found no significant cross-correlation between the more hedonic coloured mood scale depressed mood and only 3 significant cross-correlations between the hedonic coloured mood scale good mood and the trainingload.

Table 1 Cross-Correlations between Power Trimp Loads and some Selected Mood Factors
Power - Fatigue Power - Pos. Activation Power - Depr. Mood Power - Good Mood
Lag 0 1 2 0 1 2 0 1 2 0 1 2
Cyclist 1 .42 .63* .53* -.47* .38 -.51* -.52*
Cyclist 2 .53* -.47* -.33
Cyclist 3 .49* .55* .56* -.45* -.69*
Cyclist 4 .57* .62* -.62* -.80* .37 -.53* -.63*
Cyclist 5 .77* .61* -.59* -.69* .45 -.72* -.45
Cyclist 6 .50* -.60* -.40
Number of Sign Correlations 3 6 2 2 6 0 0 0 0 3 3 0
Note. Power is indicated through trimp loads. * correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

Discussion / Conclusions

Results show a close relationship between different mood factors and training load. We argue, that the mood scales fatigue and positive activation indicate a simple reaction or coping inadequacy to or with heavy training load. From an affect theoretical perspective the function of these mood states is to inform the person about the physical need of recovery or the action readiness of the person. We argue that if the negative mood state with high fatigue and low positive activation persists over a longer period it will affect other mood categories by influencing the appraisal processes of the person. This will lead in a higher probability to perceive negative emotions and to have negative cognitions.


  1. Martin, D. T., Andersen, M. B., & Gates, W. (2000). The Sport Psychologist, 14, 138-156.
  2. Birrer, D., & Andersen, M.B. (in preparation). Unraveling affect measurement in sport psychology research: The circumplex mood scales
  3. Kenttä, G., & Hassmén, P. (1998). Sports Medicine, 26, 116.




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